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on September 18, 2005
The "Teacher's Handbook" includes translations of readings and answers to the exercises in the "Athenaze An Introduction To Ancient Greek" textbook. If you're planning on self-study the Handbook is a critical book to have and use.

But beware edition confusion. The current Athenaze textbook is the SECOND edition, published in 2003.

The Handbook listed at Amazon, published in 1989, is for the FIRST edition. The exercises have changed. Be careful not buy the first edition Handbook to use with the second edition text.

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The Athenaze set is a bit easier than the Reading Greek alternative. But the truth is, if you spend a half hour a day with either one, you'll have fun and make real progress. The secret is not the book, it's putting in the time.

Be sure to get:

1. Athenaze, An Introduction To Ancient Greek - the main text

2. Teacher's Handbook - with translations of the readings, and answers to exercises

3. The Athenaze Workbook -- drill and practice
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on June 19, 2000
I found this book an excellent introduction to Attic Greek. People who want to become professors in the Classics might prefer other texts, but Athenaze is an admirable book for those who simply want to acquire some reading knowledge of ancient Greek. Athenaze succeeded well at that important task of making language learning interesting. I found that the reading selection was substantially more interesting than other introductory language books which I have used (albeit in other languages). Since I used this book for self study and not as part of a professor taught course, I felt that the engaging nature of the book was especially important. The grammatical explanations were lucid and well designed to build upon each other as the lessons progress. While these explanations might not give the full story, a beginner would get lost and discouraged if too much grammar is thrown his way.
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on December 13, 2004
I learned Greek at university using the JACT "Reading Greek" text. When it came time to teach my elementary school-age son, it was clear that the JACT text was inadequate--starting with its forbidding small type and its unclear (or absent) explanations of many key concepts. Fortunately Athenaze has come along since I went to college! It is superior in every way. The English text is readable and clear (at least as clear as one can be explaining the arcana of Greek syntax). I can even say that, thanks to Athenaze, I myself finally understand, more or less, the rules for accents that somehow eluded me in four years of Greek at the university level. The Greek texts are well written, not overly pedantic, and do a good job of introducing vocabulary and forms gradually and thoroughly. The accompanying workbook is indispensable for giving beginners more chance to practice, and (another improvement over JACT as I remember it) balance Greek-to-English and English-to-Greek exercises.

No language textbook is a substitute for a teacher, but Athenaze is an outstanding resource.
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on January 4, 2005
I was a Greek tutor for a student using this book, although I learned myself 3 years ago from a different textbook. I don't recommend this one because it has a very confusing format. The book jumps around too much. It introduces difficult concepts (like middle voice) very quickly to beginners while they are still struggling with the basic noun and verb endings. The Greek paragraphs don't come with translations, and the trivia about culture and mythology buries the important information. It's very easy to overlook important concepts hidden in the middle of a busy page. Also, the book never presents helpful charts for quick-reference... instead students have to rift through the pages every time they need an ending. I ended up copying tons of material from my old Greek textbook for my tutoree because she couldn't find what she needed in the Athenaze book. My student isn't alone in having trouble with the book; her professor has decided to switch texts for next semester because Athenaze doesn't give students what they need to be proficient. This book appears to be a fun way to learn ancient Greek, but it's too disorganized for a serious student who actually wants to learn the language.

I recommend L.A. Wilding's "Greek for Beginners" (edited by C.W. Shelmerdine) instead because of its clear format that presents information up front, its Greek-to-English and English-to-Greek sentences, the interesting end-of-chapter longer readings, and (especially) the amazing charts at the end of the book that I am STILL using 3 years later because they are so quick and easy to reference.
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on May 12, 2004
I bought this book to help me learn Greek through self-study. I have worked through the first half so far. The focus of this book is to teach you to read classical (Attic) Greek. The book takes the inductive, learn-by-example approach to language learning. Grammar is also introduced along the way.

This second edition a significant improvement on the first edition. There are many more grammar exercises, and many explanations have been improved.

I have learned a lot of vocabulary and syntax from this book. The main reading passages follow a made-up story, set against the backdrop of Athens during one of it's most interesting times. This story, even though a little annoying at times, made the historical setting come alive for me. The authors effectively use the story as a way to introduce aspects of Greek culture and history. Where else can you experience, in beginning Greek, what it was like to attend the festival of Dionysus in Athens, for example? There are also wonderful secondary reading passages from the classical period, based on Greek myths, Homer, Heroditus, etc. It was great fun to read stories about Odysseus and Theseus in Greek (albeit dumbed-down).

Athenaze throws a lot of vocabulary at you, which is good, but I needed to re-read the lessons several times before I felt like everything was sinking in. While working through the readings, I often could not find a word in the vocabulary, probably because it was introduced somewhere in an earlier lesson. Sometimes I never found the word, even in the back of the book, and I had to consult other lexicons.

In my opinion, the best way to learn vocabulary and syntax is through readings such as the ones this book contains. It helps you remember vocabulary and understand syntax better, when you read it in context of a story. And working through a graded reader like this is much more interesting than grammar drills, which is the traditional way. However, it may be hard to learn all the grammar you will need from this book alone. If you do not take the time to master the grammar along with the readings, eventually you will hit a wall where it becomes very difficult to proceed. For extra practice, I recommend you also get the workbook (ISBN 0195149548, 2nd edition). There is a teacher's edition too (ISMB 0195168089), but Amazon does not appear to sell it. When you finish this Book I, there is also a Book II (ISBN 0195149572, 2nd edition) to continue your study.

New to this addition, there are also very short readings from classical and New Testament authors. I have skipped over these, because they just add more vocabulary, and I already feel like the main text is enough to absorb. I will go back and read these later.

I think this book would be good for classroom use, as long as the teacher doesn't skimp on grammar. Ideally, you would already have learned some basic grammar before Athenaze, and then you would use this book to review grammar and focus on learning vocabulary and syntax. This book could be used for an absolute beginning class, but the pace would have to be slow, I think.

For self-study, this book may be a somewhat steep climbing for beginners. But it is the best and most rewarding book I have found for learning Greek on my own. I highly recommend it. Just plan to re-read the chapters many times. Greek is a difficult language and there are no shortcuts. It will take hard work. However, Athenaze makes the experience about as painless and enjoyable as it could be.

[Update - Dec. 2, 2004] I have now worked through this book twice, up to the point where the aorist is introduced, about halfway through the book. Both times I found the "climbing" had become too steep and I stopped. There were suddenly so many more verb forms that I had to remember. Perhaps if I had taken a class it would have helped me continue on. I definitely recommend you spend extra time on the aorist when you get to it. And of course you must learn well the stuff that comes before it. I still recommend this book as the best I have found. I will try it again.
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on July 15, 2004
I have used this book for several years with great enjoyment and success in a high school independent study I teach. The book is presented in a clean, clear, student-friendly format, and may even play a role in restoring Greek to its rightful place in the modern curriculum. The book is based on the very sound notion that students can begin to approach original Greek texts more easily if they begin their study of the language with lessons that feature passages of continuous, connected Greek sentences. This concept, for Greek studies at any rate, is quite radical.
Other introductory Greek textbooks (old and new) that have dominated the field for the last century -- the only exception being the Cambridge "Reading Greek" course -- have formats that are strikingly different from Athenaze. Those hornbooks are long on detailed grammatical lessons, but woefully short on the presentation of reading passages of ancient Greek.
In a manner similar to the Cambridge Latin Course and The Oxford Latin Course, this text presents a series of chapters where the same characters -- Dicaiopolis (loosely based on a character in the Acharnians of Aristophanes), his wife, his father, his two children, and his slave -- do familiar Greek things like farming, eating, sleeping, complaining, telling stories, attending festivals, etc. The ongoing plot line maintains student interest. Repetition of important words helps to develop a working vocabulary. New grammatical concepts and vocabulary are woven seamlessly into each new chapter.
Few textbooks meet all needs; however, this one is a gem. I could not conceive of using another at the high school level and am sure it is equally effective as a university level text.
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on December 16, 2000
I thought that Greek would be my hardest class this year, but it turned out to be my easiest and my favorite. It seems as though many of the critics of this book expect greek to be an organized, logical language (like latin, perhaps). Unfortunately, that's simply not the case. Greek is (as a friend put it) "the warped creation of a million little devil-gnomes in togas," which doesn't make it any less beautiful or fascinating, just a little more confusing and difficult. The story is repetitive in order to teach grammer effectively. Overall, I'd say the story's not bad, and it's certainly amusing at times (esp. the frequent use of mastigia -jailbird- as an insult). Some nouns are introduced before they can be declined because the third "declension" is ridiculously irregular. And really, you don't need to be able to decline a word to read. This is basically the attitude of the book, and I think it's executed well. Even as an adult, you come accross english words you don't know, and most of the time it doesn't kill you. It's the same with greek grammar. As for the second aorist coming before the first- do you know how easy the first aorist is after you've seen the second? I was elated to learn the first! The first is only a semantic prerequisite for the second. Most importantly, this text makes reading ancient greek a surmountable task. My biggest worry about greek was that I was never going to be able to do it well, and this book has proved me wrong. Of course, a learned human resource is indispensible, as is hours and hours of serious study. Learning Greek is as much an issue of memorization as it is anything else, so a huge time and motivation commitment is required. There is no text that can teach you greek if all you do is show up for class 4 days a week. But once you've made that commitment, the rewards are tremendous. I can't wait.
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on January 24, 2002
In spite the many reviews by people who seem bitter about their failure to learn Greek, I feel that it is necessary to provide some defense of this Greek course. I have had German, Latin, Hebrew, and even Sumerian courses. By far, Athenaze was the best text I had for any of these classes. The Greek language is very archaic compared with English, not as "collapsed" in forms. It can be a painful language for someone who is used to speaking only English. Athenaze makes learning Greek as easy as possible. I completed 3 semesters with this book, and 3 additional semesters in Greek. I have translated Classical and Koine Greek literature both during and after the Athenaze course. I find that I am able to produce quite passable translations with the grammar I learned from Athenaze. Like the Greek language, Athenaze is not for every person and every learning style. But as language books go, it is a good one.
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on July 5, 2006
I think this text is great for self-study if you have the time to spend 30 minutes or an hour on it every day. Since you are supposed to learn the vocabulary and grammar by reading (they are presented to you seperately, of course, but no translation of the main text is given), you must read it over several times before you are ready to move on to the next chapter. However, once you have thoroughly learned a concept (especially a grammatical one), you will find it difficult to forget, since they keep re-using them in subsequent chapters while adding more onto it.

Basically, each chapter is divided into two "subchapters;" the first of which usually has lots of vocabulary words and not too much grammar, while the second has more grammar but less vocabulary. There are also has fewer exercises in the second part, but an additional, smaller reading is there to make up for it. If you use everything the book has to offer, you will get a lot out of it. There is a great appendix and index in the back as well, with tons of paradigms. This book has helped me a lot. The workbook is good also for additional practice (it provides translations for the readings, unlike the main text), but is not necessary.
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on May 27, 2007
I've read through many of the reviews of this book and find that most of my critiques and commendations of it have already been expressed, but I think a concise (non-partisan) evaluation of it could be useful for a prospective student. I worked through both volumes of this text during a two-semester-long, 5-days-a-week "Intensive Attic Greek" class at a large Eastern University. I had two diiferent professors who taught the class, both of them well-respected classicists in their respective areas. I also own (and have extensively consulted) the texts by Anne Groton (_From Alpha to Omega_) and Donald Mastronarde (_Introduction to Attic Greek_), and so I am qualified to evaluate the _Athenaze_ series.

The main advantages of this book [as I find them] are the following:

-- The student begins to read 'Greek' from the start.

--The book is designed to be 'friendly,' and is a refreshing change from the stoic scholasticism that permeates Greek pedagogy.

--The introduction of principal parts, etc. is staged, which can ease the burden of being overwhelmed by unfamiliar verb forms. Some might think this is a disadvantage, but I found it helpful.

--The text is interspersed with small [heavily glossed] snippets of 'real' Greek: selections from Archilochus, Sappho, Theognis, etc...as well as consistent segments from the New Testament. These selections become longer and more difficult as the book progresses.

--Contrary to some reviewers' comments, _Athenaze_ DOES include reference charts for grammar paradigms. The confusion is that the first volume includes only material covered to the end of that volume, while the second includes both. This is logical. Personally, I find the format of the paradigms to be easier to follow than those in Mastronarde book, though the _Athenaze_ charts are less thorough (not covering 3rd-person imperatives, for example, or the Dual). However, some paradigms are not included, and must be hunted up in the body of the text...notably the -MI- verbs, and the forms of 'oida.' This is annoying, but purchasing a supplementary grammar (the Oxford grammar is a fine one) will solve this easily.

Now, for my critiques:

--Like all books, the text should be supplemented by a competent teacher. I tried (and failed) to teach myself Greek using this and several other texts. After attending classes for the past year, I've realised that NOTHING substitutes for the assistance of a well-trained Professor. This cannot be stressed enough. Someone can do a decent job of learning the language with this series, but unless they have exceptional fortitude and wit, will be unable to move to a 'real Greek' text, aided only by a lexica and commentary.

--The second book (compared to the first book) is disproportionately weighted with difficult grammar, introducing the Perfect System, the Subjunctive, the Optative, Aorist Passive, Future Passive, Indirect Discourse, -MI- verbs... This stuff can be tough sledding, and require far more work than concepts introduced in the first book.

--I thought the treatment of Indirect Discourse to be too brief. Even with supplementary instruction from the professor I struggled with these concepts, because the _Athenaze_ examples were too brief.

--The chapter vignettes, though meant to charming, are fairly prosaic (as must be expected when working with so limited a vocaublary). In a classroom, the tedium can be broken by poking fun at the story, but reading this on your own might be a strain. Also, the drawings that precede each chapter are terrible, but [mercifully] end by the second voume. These may seem like superficial criticims, but I challenge anyone to find a student who's used this book and not been distracted or puzzled by these oddities.

Those are the main points. Overall, _Athenaze_ is a good text, but it should really be supplemented by a teacher. I found the 'filler' material to be interesting and diverting, and the book provides many opportunites for practice reading. It seems as competent as any other available text, and provides a valuable choice for people who learn best by 'immersion.'
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